Western Mountains and High Plains

July, 2011
Regional Report

Wash Iris Roots

When dividing iris, wash the old soil from the roots. Put the divisions into a recycled mesh onion bag and let rhizomes soak overnight. This not only loosens the soil around the rhizomes, but plumps up the roots. Pot up freshly cleaned rhizomes to share or plant them back into a prepared bed.

Mulch Pepper Plants

To maintain uniform moisture levels, mulch pepper plants. Peppers don't tolerate drying out very well, and this can reduce fruit set. Mulching will also reduce the invasion of that pesky weed known as purslane which robs the soil of moisture.

Cope with Hail Damage

Hail can damage plants quickly and dampen our gardening spirit. Be optimistic as early-season hail damage doesn't always mean tragedy. Plants can recover on their own and foliage will regrow. A light fertilizing with a water-soluble plant food can help boost plants and increase their resistance to opportunistic insects and diseases.

Protect Japanese Maples

Japanese maples don't like the heat of our summers, particularly when they're grown in unsheltered conditions. I've found they do best in protected areas so they won't get their lacy foliage scorched from wind or intense sun. If needed, protect with shade cloth, mist on hot days, and consider relocation, if possible.

Be on the Watch for Psyllids

Tiny tomato pests (Bactericera cockereli), known as psyllids, can severely stunt tomatoes. They excrete honeydew that resembles sugar on the leaves, which is a clue that plants are under attack. Apply insecticidal soap as needed to keep these pests at bay. A light dusting of sulfur can also be helpful

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